On the one hand he seems to be instinctively conservative on certain issues, and has been a strong moral leader and extraordinarily decisive and effective Commander in Chief. On the other hand, he's shown a less-than-conservative strain in the many policy areas that I listed, plus others.
More importantly, Bush 41's Gulf War was a finite proposition. Dubya's War on Terror is here to stay, throughout his second term if he's re-elected. This isn't his doing. Our enemies will remain persistent -- to many of them their cause is more important than life, and their goals, short of our abject surrender, cannot be achieved through negotiation or diplomacy.
For good reasons, reinforced every day by almost every Democratic leader, American voters generally don't trust Democrats to handle our national security. This will be the overriding issue in 2004, and Democrats know it. That's why they're willing to do nearly anything to discredit Bush, even if it means discrediting themselves and America in the process.
Which brings me to the final point. Democratic hopefuls have shown their true colors in the variety, viciousness, disingenuousness and shamelessness of their attacks on President Bush concerning Iraq and the War on Terror. Even while Bush appears slightly vulnerable over certain minor issues (the 16-word red herring) and seemingly major ones (our failure to find WMDs), the Democrats are consistently hurting themselves more than President Bush with their transparently partisan attacks.
When the partisan dust settles, the voters just might make these gentlemen pay for their reckless, destructive and self-serving allegations, which could seriously undermine America's war and peacetime efforts in Iraq, the War on Terror and the morale of our troops. If Democrats are looking petty now, just wait until we do find evidence of WMDs. It won't be pretty for them.
No Democratic aspirant has any credibility on these major issues, nor will Hillary if she decides to throw her hat in the ring. I say none of this with an air of cockiness -- things can change rapidly in politics -- but Democrats are a long shot for 2004.